Thursday, January 29, 2015

Introducing... Faith Builders! A new series on Strengthened by the Word

This news is so exciting, I didn't want to write about it, I wanted to tell you about it!  If you can't see the video, please follow this link.

To submit your stories, contact me on my website, on Facebook, or Twitter. Together, let's glorify God by sharing how He is at work in our lives!

Be Strengthened Today, By His Word,
Psalm 119:28


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Victims or Victors?

As I read the words, they jumped right into my life. I can’t quote them directly and I wish I’d noted where I saw them. They were penned by Beth Moore, that much I know. She said something along the lines of this: 

“We needn’t succumb to the temptation of listening to the lies of the enemy.”

She didn’t say we don’t have to listen to the voice of the enemy. She said we needn’t crumble to the temptation of listening to his lies. Her honesty turned what I thought I knew right on its head. 

I’d thought of myself as a victim of the enemy, our accuser. As I heard his whispers, the accusations that he wields like a skilled warrior, my habit was to use defensive tactics that symbolically felt like cowering in a corner and covering my head until the pummeling was over.

What Beth suggested was profound: 

I choose to listen to his lies. 

I play an active role in the assault. 

I am not merely a victim without control, but I participate in the process.

When my mind fixes on his whispers, I am choosing to succumb to temptation. 

It’s as easy as succumbing to the temptation for chocolate. Or for some people an unbridled tongue, or a cigarette, or others a shot of whisky or a risqué video. 

God’s lesson for me, delivered by my “friend” Beth (whom I’ve never met - just for the record), was confirmed by two precious sisters within the same week.

My friend and mentor, Doreen has advised for years to not believe the lies of the evil one. Doreen is quick and faithful to point my mind toward the truth of God’s character and His Word. She reminded me again during a prayer meeting that his lies are rampant and we must actively stay on guard.

My friend Deborah sat with me over breakfast and described an assault by the evil one that was eerily similar to one I’d recently experienced myself. She was driving, everything was fine, and the accusations came like a flood. They centered around regrets of parenting and incidents from nearly 20 years ago.  Deborah’s response was far different from my own and transformed Beth’s words from sound wisdom to realistic application.

Deborah said aloud, “That’s all you’ve got?  Well Christ has already redeemed that and I walk in victory and freedom!”  

Go, Deborah! That’s walking it out and choosing against temptation to listen. 

Through the power of God’s Word we can position ourselves as offensive warriors against the accuser. We go after him with the truth, with the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. Fiery darts from the devil cannot penetrate our shield of faith. We are victors in Christ, not victims of the enemy!

Looking into God’s Word, we see that our role in spiritual warfare is active, not passive.  I pray for the Lord’s help and provision of rapid discernment. May He provide strength to resist the devil through the power of His mighty Name. 

Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. James 4:7 (NASB)

Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Ephesians 6:13 (NASB)  

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8 (ESV)

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. 1 Corinthians 10:13 (NIV)

When He arrived at the place, He said to them, "Pray that you may not enter into temptation.” Luke 22:40 (NASB)

Your Turn:

When have you felt overwhelmed by the lies of the enemy?

Do you tend to think of yourself more as a victim or a victor?

Leave your comments below or continue the conversation on Facebook or Twitter!

Be Strengthened today, by His Word,
Psalm 119:28


Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Alone. Rejected. Invisible. Inadequate. Overlooked.

Researchers say the average person feels ignored and excluded at least once every day. For most, the triggers are trivial and short-lived.  It’s more serious when the feelings settle in like a fog and make it hard to think of little else.  

Many women describe that the feelings become on-going and deep-seated when…  

  • A career is sacrificed to raise a family and she wonders, “when’s it my turn?”
  • Changes at the workplace push her far beyond her comfort zone.
  • A mother-in-law un-friends her on Facebook.
  • An ex-husband has unreasonable custody requests.
  • Shame surfaces from events in her past.
  • A husband is involved in porn.
  • A child chooses to live with her natural father instead of staying at home.
  • A husband’s career seems a higher priority than his family.
  • A friend is angry about something blown out of proportion.
  • A potential employer says no thank you.
  • A colleague constantly points out flaws.

It’s hard to combat feeling as if no one understands, and no one sees or cares about her needs. Her thoughts repeat the words, “What about me?” and she begins to feel that if she were just a better ______ (fill in the blank), things could be different.  

Once the thought patterns emerge, the enemy of her soul steps up his accusations. He knows the precise moment to begin the assault.  After all, he’s studied human behavior for thousands of years and can sense when she’s weakest.  He whispers lies, then speaks them, and eventually shouts them so loudly she can hear nothing else.

She concentrates on self pity. Her insecurity turns to pain, which evolves to anger, and transforms to bitterness. Before she knows what happened, her thoughts are all negative, all the time. She feels she’s become one of those overly critical people who spews discontentment and pessimism.

Break the Cycle

How do we break the cycle and take our thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ? How do we fix our minds on the things above and not what’s on the earth? 

Philippians 4:8 (NIV) Instructs us: “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”  

This bears repeating. We must fill our minds with things that are:

True. Noble. Right. Pure. Lovely. Admirable. Excellent. Praiseworthy.

Only the Lord and His Word meet all of these criteria. We must fill our minds with Christ and the Truth of His Word. Consider the following Scriptures next time you find yourself in a downward spiral…

Genesis 16:13 (HCSB) 
So she called the LORD who spoke to her: The God Who Sees, for she said, "In this place, have I actually seen the One who sees me?”

Psalm 10:14 (NIV)
But you, God, see the trouble of the afflicted;
    you consider their grief and take it in hand.
The victims commit themselves to you;
    you are the helper of the fatherless.

Hebrews 13:5b (NIV)
God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”

Deuteronomy 31:8 (NASB)
The Lord is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”

Psalm 27:10 (NASB)
For my father and my mother have forsaken me, But the Lord will take me up.

Isaiah 43:2 (ESV)
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
    and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
    and the flame shall not consume you.

Psalm 30:5 (NASB)
For His anger is but for a moment,
His favor is for a lifetime;
Weeping may last for the night,
But a shout of joy comes in the morning.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (HCSB)
Therefore we do not give up. Even though our outer person is being destroyed, our inner person is being renewed day by day. For our momentary light affliction is producing for us an absolutely incomparable eternal weight of glory. So we do not focus on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

Meditating on Scripture won’t solve all of our problems. It takes our focus off of ourselves and places it on God. Meditating on His Word makes us confident in Him. It will help us reframe our thinking and STOP obsessing over our pain and bitterness. That’s certainly a step in the right direction. 

When we’re thinking clearly, it’s easier to get the help we need to navigate our situation. We can walk in ways that are honoring to God and beneficial to ourselves and our families.  We find strength to comfort others through the comfort we receive from God. We recognize and embrace God’s best.

In Christ, we are strong enough to overcome feeling alone, rejected, invisible, inadequate, and overlooked. That’s not who we are.  As the faithful in Christ Jesus, we are blessed, chosen, adopted, accepted, redeemed, and forgiven. Ephesians chapter 1 tells us so.

I don’t know if you’ve heard “I am Not Alone” by Kari Jobe. It seems a fitting way to end this post.  Please enjoy it here.

Your Turn:

In the past, how have you dealt with feelings of rejection?  How will you handle those feelings in the future?

How do you strive to discern between mood and actual truth?

Leave your comments below or continue the conversation on Facebook or Twitter!

Be Strengthened today, by His Word,
Psalm 119:28


Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Moving Forward by Stepping Back

By now, disappointing realizations about our goals for the new year can hit our hearts. Are you feeling frustrated?  You’re not alone!  We might have just discovered:

  1. We weren’t nearly as prepared to kick off our New Year goals as we believed. 
  2. Our lack of preparation has stalled us in our aim for personal development.
  3. Sadly, we may have already given up on some of the objectives we set for 2015.
I’d like to encourage you: Don’t give up!  When we desire to move forward, sometimes it’s best to take a few steps back. 

As we desire to press on TOWARD a goal it seems counter-productive to step BACK, but stick with me here.

Evaluate Goals. Are they SMART? 

First, let’s step back and evaluate our objectives for 2015. Examine goals through the filter of the SMART acronym, which has been around for decades.

Is our goal:

S     Specific to give clear direction to our daily to-do list?  Be careful that it’s not so precise that it paralyzes us from moving forward, but detailed enough to help us keep our bearings as we navigate.  A specific goal involves at least part of the plan to achieve the goal.

M    Measurable to show if we’re making progress, holding steady, or backsliding?  Let’s quantify our goal with some sort of numeric or grading system so we always know where we stand.

A    Assignable to someone who can help us achieve our dream? In some cases, this means the ability to delegate tasks. In other cases, such as with personal goals, it’s enlisting the help of another for accountability. 

R    Realistic to achieve? Is our goal so “pie-in-the-sky” that we’re doomed to fail? Or is it realistic yet challenging, so that we can accomplish it within 12 months?  

T   Is our goal time sensitive?  “Someday I’d like to write a book” is a fantastic dream, but without a deadline, there’s no sense of urgency and procrastination takes over.  A goal is a dream with a deadline. 

Recognize Realities

Next, step back to determine if smaller goals are needed before pursuing the larger, more ambitious target.  In this step, we’re evaluating our preparation. We're setting ourselves up for success.  

Ask yourself five important questions and record the answers:
  1. What roadblocks do I see that will keep me from success?
  2. What am I willing to give up in order to reach my objective?
  3. Are others who support my dreams willing to help? 
  4. Do I have the right tools to do the job?
  5. Do I have help and accountability in place to gain success?
The answers to these questions will help us establish the needed goals before the goal.

Let’s play out an example using this theoretical SMART goal:
To improve my personal health by choosing foods low in carbs and fat 
To work closely with my neighbor and walk 10 miles together each week
To lose 2 pounds a week for 12 weeks 
To reach the ultimate goal of 25 pounds of weight loss on or before May 1, 2015
Next, I examine realities that hinder progress toward that goal, using the 5 earlier-stated questions. This is the time for complete honesty. Through examination, I may discover:
  • My cupboards are loaded with holiday goodies and sweets
  • I’ve never been on a low-carb diet and have no meal ideas.
  • My husband loves potatoes, bread, and sweets, yet never gains a pound.
  • I don’t own a good pair of walking shoes.
  • My neighbor wants to walk in the mornings, but that’s when I spend quiet time with the Lord.
  • My bathroom scale doesn’t work well.
  • I struggle with eating temptations.
  • I don’t exercise a lot of self-control. 

Goals before the Goal

Smaller goals are desperately needed before my larger goal can unfold. In this example, the needed goals before the goal are as follows:
  1. Throw away all junk food from my cupboards, donating the non-perishable items.  
  2. Research a reasonable diet plan and find simple recipes.
  3. Ask my husband if, for this season, he’ll enjoy his carbs while at work and not at home.
  4. Develop a plan for snacks and cravings.
  5. Shop for healthy foods and fill my cupboards with healthy choices.
  6. Work out a reasonable walking schedule and alternate morning and evening walks.
  7. Obtain the tools I need to do this job well, including walking shoes and a new bathroom scale. (If I can afford just one, I will choose shoes and use a scale at the rec center.)
  8. Commit my plans to the Lord and pray daily for His help against temptation. 
  9. When (not if) temptation strikes, after prayer, call a friend who is prepared to help.

Once these objectives are met, I’m ready to pursue my SMART goal with confidence. I’ve set myself up for success. I’m ready to start again with stronger conviction.  

Don’t give up, just step back - and you’re well on your way.

Prepare your work outside; get everything ready for yourself in the field, and after that build your house.  Proverbs 24:27 ESV

Your Turn:

How can we make 2015 better than 2014?

What roadblocks are keeping you from success?

Who provides accountability?

Leave our comments here or continue to conversation on Facebook or Twitter!

Be Strengthened Today, by His Word,
Psalm 119:28


Tuesday, January 6, 2015

5 Steps to Getting OFF a Roller Coaster

I generally write for a female audience. I know some men read my work, but men, unless you are up for WAY too much information, you might want to exit this particular post right now. Seriously. Come back next week and, Lord willing, I’ll post something that’s not so saturated with estrogen. Today, I’m writing exclusively to the ladies, and I wonder if it’s too over the top even for my own gender.  

You’ve been warned. 

To my great surprise, I recently received a flurry of notes from women offering encouragement and sharing how Strengthened by the Word Ministries has touched their lives. What a blessing! The notes say they receive inspiration through my teaching, writing, coaching, and in general through the ministry that the Lord is accomplishing through me. All to the praise and honor of the Lord.

In the meantime, I caught wind of a “large” gathering of friends to which I was not invited. That same day, another friend asked for my advice on a particular matter, then decided to go a different direction.  Ouch.  Of course I took those things personally and guess where my mind dwelled.  Right.  On the negative.

The confidence beginning to blossom through the help of a few compliments is once again buried in insecurities. In an instant, the negative overtook the positive. I’m reminded of times when people gave up on me. Memories of rejection and inadequacy are resurfacing to the front of my mind. For the thousandth time, I feel invisible and of little value. 

I know it’s stupid. I mean, honestly - what completely idiotic reasons to allow myself to slump into a heap of melted uncertainty. But here I sit, wishing I had some Christmas chocolate to drown my sorrows. I don’t. I’ve eaten it. All of it.  
I find myself strapped into a seat on a familiar roller coaster. Up, high in the sky for a few brief seconds, then plummeting to the lowest of lows. I enjoy roller coasters in amusement parks, but those that come through emotions aren’t all that fun. 

Avoiding dramatic swings sometimes seems impossible. Maybe it’s hormones, or tight panties, or too much sugar from holiday goodies. The fact is, I’m on the roller coaster and I’d really like to get off. 

I prefer a more level path, don’t you? So what’s a girl to do?

Obviously I’m still learning and don’t have this issue mastered, but here’s my 5-step action plan (and it does not involve chocolate):

  1. Vent.  Do this carefully and without causing injury to others - and then move on.  I recently heard it said that trials are inevitable, but misery is optional.  I will walk through this trial, but I will not let misery get the best of me.
  2. Fill my mind with the truth of God’s Word. I often wonder why negativity sticks to my skin like a cocklebur while words of affirmation seem to roll right off. A friend gave an answer: It’s because I already believe the negative. I don’t need convincing. In a move of combat, I turn to Scripture. The more TRUTH I can plug in to my mind, the less room there is for roaming thoughts of junk. A few of my "go-to" verses are listed and linked below.
  3. Find a reason to laugh.  Visit with a friend by phone or text. Ask her to share the happiest or funniest thing that’s happened today. Share a joke or listen to a great, clean comedian.
  4. Move around.  I’m not much of an exerciser (everyone knows that), but vacuuming, or gardening or goat feeding or even a bit of laundry can help a negative mindset, especially if the activity involves sunshine. (My husband sometimes loves when I’m angry because I clean like there’s no tomorrow.)
  5. Crank up the praise music and keep the focus on God.  These wise words came via text message:  “We are mature creatures with a mighty God who keeps us. We are His from beginning to end. It may get messy, but we have authority in the spiritual realm to break the lies that hold us back. Our experiences with Christ grow us to a point where WE ARE NOT FOOLED.”   Yes, Lord. Satan is a liar and constantly whispers lies. We need not believe them. We are Yours. Victory is ours.

I feel better. Thank you for riding the roller coaster with me. My white knuckles are beginning to relax and I think we can get off now.  


Is my makeup okay?

Some of my Go-To Scripture Verses:


Do you have go-to Bible verses when you struggle with negative self-talk? What are they?

What kind of things make you laugh?

In what areas has God provided victory in your past?

Be Strengthened Today, By His Word,
Psalm 119:28